Here are my five nominees for Crossword of the Month for March 2014. Note that if a puzzle requires a subscription to solve, clicking on the title below will lead to a review of the puzzle. If no subscription is required, clicking on the title below will lead to the puzzle itself.
In chronological order, our five nominees are:
All or Nothing by Erik Agard. Fireball Crosswords, Mar. 6th, 2014.
Power Schrödinger puzzle where the word ALL can be removed from the three theme entries and replaced with…nothing.
Send in the Clones by Brendan Emmett Quigley. The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, Mar. 8th, 2014. (No review or puzzle link available, but the tournament puzzles can be purchased here).
A novel and hidden trick: theme entries only make sense if you remove a crossing entry from them.
Eeeeeevil! by Matt Jones. Jonesin’ Crosswords, Mar. 11th, 2014.
The 666th Jonesin’ Crossword gets a satanic twist: the letter E appears nowhere in the grid, and, where it appears in a clue, must be dropped for the clue to make sense.
Draw Swords by Brendan Emmett Quigley. The American Values Club Crossword, Mar. 27th, 2014.
That’s “Draw S-words,” and that parsing makes all the difference.
Running Opposition by Andrew Ries. Fireball Crosswords, Mar. 27th, 2014. (No puzzle link or review available, but subscriptions can be purchased at the link from the puzzle title).
An intriguing find turned into an excellent meta: the first names of several opponents in U.S. presidential elections combine to form stand-alone phrases, such as the Kubrick film “Barry Lyndon” from the Johnson-Goldwater matchup of 1964.
Strong month of crosswords, but these S-words came out on top. An ambitious and creative theme, and a tricky one to pull off: not only do the S-words form the shape of a letter S in the grid, but the letters forming that S must also spell cluable entries.
Several nice touches that push this one ahead of the tough competition: there are no other words beginning with S in the grid besides the three used in the theme; the three S-boxes are placed symmetrically in the grid; and the long central entry creates its own symmetry by continuing along its path after its S word is formed.
Beautifully done, and my pick for Crossword of the Month for March 2014.
Full list of Crossword of the Month winners:
March 2014 — Brendan Emmett Quigley, American Values Club Crossword
February 2014 — Neville Fogarty, www.nevillefogarty.wordpress.com
January 2014 — Peter Broda, The Cross Nerd
December 2013 — Francis Heaney, American Values Club Crossword
November 2013 — Pete Muller, Muller Monthly Music Meta
October 2013 — Francis Heaney, American Values Club Crossword
September 2013 — Anna Shechtman, American Values Club Crossword